The Making of The Rugrats Movie
After the artists have hand-drawn the characters, they feed their pencil drawings into a piece of electrical equipment called a scanner. The scanner makes digital images of the drawings so that the computer can read them. The characters can then be included in scenes with 3D objects. According to Norton, "About a third of the shots in the movie - if not more - combine hand drawn and computer generated animation.
To add movement to each shot, the artists take the combination drawings and insert the in-betweens - all the drawings that get a character from one pose to another. The in betweens then work like a flip book. The animators must provide 12 to 24 pictures for each second of film.
Before there were computers, artists had to paint by hand every drawing in the animated movie. In the Rugrats movie,a digital link and paint systems replaces brushes and tubes of paint. Using the computers the artists pick the shades they want and apply the colours to the combined drawings. The artists also use the computer to add special effects, such as shading blurs and underwater distortion
On a powerful Macintosh computer, Norton and Igor use a digital editing system to combine the moving pictures with dialogue, sound effects and music. Norton says, "Let's say we have a scene where Tommy looks at something and then looks away, and we wish to hold that look longer. In the old days it would mean that all of the artwork would have to be taken out of a closet somewhere and filmed all over again to adjust the timing of the sequence (But that was too difficult to do) Now we make a test version of each scene to see whether we like it." Lots and drawings and artistic effort have always gone into making an animated feature. But computers give the artists a huge new set of tools that help to make the film more vibrant and realistic. When The Rugrats Movie comes to your town, you'll be able to see that difference yourself.